He came in on a Thursday, and while he hung out with his friends one night, he chose to stay in, with me, on the couch, doing nothing for the remaining time. It was my first week on my own with the baby after Jeff went back to work full time and my mom left, and it was really nice to have a tether to someone else. He was supposed to leave on Sunday night, and I was so sad to have to say goodbye again. This time, I knew it might be the last goodbye. The universe was looking out for me though. We got a really bad storm, so he stayed until Monday. I was so relieved to have one more day with him. I wasn't ready to let him go. Monday night rolled around and Jeff took him to the train, and I got a text message from Jeff, "Lukas missed his train!" They had waited to go down there so Lukas would not have to sit at the train station, and apparently his train left early. I'm not sure what kind of luck that is for him, but I was thrilled to have another bonus day.
On that last day, we sat. We watched bad TV. We played on our phones from our respective corners of the couch. We talked in abstracts about the future. He spoke of his plans to move from Ohio to Florida with the hope, excitement, and anticipation that I had as a 24 year old moving to Chicago. He was in a place I recognized, and in that moment, I once again gained a deeper understanding of this perilous journey we are on. There were so many things I wanted to tell him. Like, "I've been there." Or, "Enjoy every moment." But nothing I could say to him would matter. These are the moments we have to experience for ourselves. So I politely smiled, and closed my mouth. This was his moment. He would experience it, just as I had. And one day we would come back together again, and he would understand.
I intellectually grasp the statement that "home is where the heart is." But I don't think I really understood it in it's full complexity until now. No matter where this life takes us, we will always be a family, Jeff, Lukas, and me. We shared moments that no one else will ever understand. Good, bad, and ugly, we made it through together. It's like a beautiful secret that no one else gets to know. No words are necessary; the imaginary string ties us together, no matter where our roads may lead. Whether he is in Florida, making a life for himself, and I am here, making a life for the baby, we will always have the years we shared together. The intricacies, the daily minutia; the inside jokes and inside tragedies: our hearts share these ties that bind.
Unfortunately, I just got those two bonus days. Tuesday evening rolled around, and it was time for him to really leave. It was so bittersweet. In that moment, my life flashed forward, to my future. While it pains me to let him go, I know that ultimately, he needs to venture out into the world and live his own life. I knew this moment would one day come full circle for me as I prepared to watch the baby grow up and do the same. I dropped him off at the train, not knowing when the next time would be that I would see him. This time, it felt more final. It was one of the more painful moments of my life. He was off to do something different, and so was I. But, wherever this life takes him, I'll always be ready to welcome him home.